Patrick Henry June 5 and 7, 17881788-1789 Petersburg, Virginia edition of the Debates and other Proceedings . . . Of the Virginia Convention of 1788

"The expression, We, the people, instead of the States of America." ". . . extremely pernicious, impolitic, and dangerous." "Here is a revolution as radical as that which separated us from Great Britain."  "... our rights and privileges are endangered."  "You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people, but how your liberty can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of your government." "Suspect every one who approaches that jewel [liberty]."  "Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it [public liberty], but downright force." "Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined." ". . . When this constitution speaks of privileges, there is an ambiguity, a fatal ambiguity." "I will submit to your recollection whether liberty has been destroyed most often by the licentiousness of the people, or by the tyranny of rulers." ". . . You will find the balance on the side of tyranny:" "[N]ations, who, omitting to resist their oppressors, or negligently suffering their liberty to be wrested from them, have groaned under intolerable despotism." "We should have fine times indeed, if to punish tyrants, it were only sufficient to assemble the people." "Did you ever read of any revolution in any nation, brought about by the punishment of those in power, inflicted by those who had not power at all?" "Your arms wherewith you could defend yourselves, are gone." "You read of a riot act in a country which is called one of the freest in the world, where a few neighbors cannot assemble without the risk of being shot by a hired soldiery, the engines of despotism. We may see such an act in America." "What resistance could be made? The attempt would be madness." "You will find all the strength of this country in the hands of your enemies:" "Of what service would militia be to you, when most probably you will not have a single musket in the State;" "The States can do nothing, this power being exclusively given to ‘Congress':" "Can the annals of mankind exhibit one single example, where rulers overcharged with power, willingly let go the oppressed, though solicited and requested most earnestly?" "A willing relinquishment of power is one of those things which human nature never was, nor ever will be capable of:" "This Constitution . . . gives an unlimited and unbounded power of taxation." "The whole of our property may be taken by this American Government, by laying what taxes they please, giving themselves what salaries they please, and suspending our laws at their pleasure." "Americans, they will preserve and hand down to their latest posterity, the transactions of the present times; they will see that I have done my utmost to preserve their liberty. For I never will give up the power of direct taxation but for a scourge:" "Shew me that age and country where the rights and liberties of the people were placed on the sole chance of their rules being good men, without a consequent loss of liberty?" "This, Sir, is my great objection to the Constitution, that there is no true responsibility – and that the preservation of our liberty depends on the single chance of men being virtuous enough to make laws to punish themselves." "The Senate can, with the President, make treaties, that shall be the supreme law of the land: They may make the most ruinous treaties; and yet there is no punishment for them."  Patrick Henry June 5 and 7, 17881788-1789 Petersburg, Virginia edition of the Debates and other Proceedings . . . Of the Virginia Convention of 1788